December 12, 2018
5:00am Traditional songs, prayers and stories
The readings for the Second Week of Advent offer both encouragement and challenge during this brief but important season of the liturgical year. Recall from last week that the purpose of this season is reflection on and preparation for the two "comings" of Christ — His coming as a baby on the great feast of Christmas, and the anticipation of His second coming at the end of time.
Our First Reading, from Baruch, is a wonderful reminder of that God has already triumphed over sin and death and that we, His faithful disciples, will live in the light of His glory one day. "Up, Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God... For God has commanded that every loft mountain be made low...that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God... for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company."
Until He comes again, we must remain faithful to Him as true disciples and good stewards of all the gifts He has given us. While it can be tempting to give in to the materialism and calls for self-indulgence that surround us, (ironically more than ever at this time of year), this reading calls us back to the spiritual reality that this life is passing and that we are made for eternal life with God. We are called to prepare for eternal life by the way that we use our time, our talents and our treasure now.
In the Second Reading, the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, Paul gives us a pep talk as we make our journey, and we modern-day disciples can take heart in his words. He tells us, "I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." Paul reminds us of two important realities that should greatly encourage us. First, that the disciple way of life is very much a journey. We don’t have to have every aspect of our life perfectly nailed down; we are all "works in progress" called simply to take one step at a time closer to Christ. Second, it is God who started this good work in us — on the day of our Baptism — He cares deeply about this journey of ours and He will give us all the grace and strength we need to stay faithful to Him and continue growing in love and imitation of Christ.
The Gospel reading from Luke shows us how personal and detailed is God's love for humanity as He prepared the way for Christ’s coming among us. We are told the precise time, place and person, John the Baptist, He appointed to announce the arrival of our Savior. Through John, we are told how to celebrate to the fullest this first "coming" on the feast of Christmas and how to prepare for the second coming — through repentance.
This Advent let's turn away from any bad habits or sin that may have crept in to our lives and turn our hearts and minds back to Christ. This is what the Catholic way of life is all about — moving ever closer in relationship with Christ and imitation of Him, ready to celebrate His birth, with eyes fixed on eternal life with Him.
According to tradition, many souls would fly to heaven when this prayer is prayed with heartfelt devotion.
St. Gertrude the Great was a holy mystic of the 14th century, who began receiving heavenly visions at age 25 while living in a Benedictine community. Among her mystical visions was a glimpse into Purgatory. There she saw a man she was praying for and his soul appeared as a toad, suffering from the sins he committed on earth. After reciting a short prayer for him, she asked Jesus if it had any effect. He replied by saying, "Certainly, the souls in Purgatory are lifted up by such supplications, but also brief prayers that are said with fervor are of even greater benefit for them."
The Church has always taught that it is a Spiritual Work of Mercy to pray for the souls of the faithful departed, imploring God to purify the souls of the dead "by the fire of his charity" and to bring them at last to their Heavenly Home.
During one of these visions Gertrude was given a prayer by Jesus for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It is piously believed that 1,000 souls are released from purgatory by praying this payer with the heart.
Below is this powerful prayer, one that trusts in the unfathomable mercy of God, poured out for us on Calvary.
Eternal Father, I offer You the most Precious Blood of Your Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for all sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
Holy Mary, Mother of Mercy, I offer you, most Holy Mother, the souls suffering in purgatory, in particular I pray for:____name(s)_____________ and for those poor souls for whom no one particularly prays for. I beg you to be so kind as to look upon them with your merciful eyes and ask for their release from their torments. Through your hands, O Holy Virgin, I offer to the Lord this act of love, asking His mercy for the souls that are being purged. Amen.
O Glorious St. Joseph, thou who hast power to render possible even things which are considered impossible, come to our aid in our present trouble and distress.
Take this important and difficult affair under thy particular protection, that it may end happily.
(MENTION YOUR REQUEST)
O dear St. Joseph, all our confidence is in thee. Let it not be said that we would invoke thee in vain; and since thou art so powerful with Jesus and Mary, show that thy goodness equal thy power. Amen.
St. Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart, pray for us.